Palacio do Catete (which contains the Museu da Republica or Museum of the Republic) formerly served as the home of the Brazilian executive branch, though today its role is that of a museum. Found in the Catete District near Flamengo Park, the Museu da Republica offers three floors of exhibits that relate to Brazil's history, with specific attention being placed on the political side of things. Various antiques and priceless works of art are among the museum pieces that are on display inside the restored Catete Palace, and the building itself is worth the visit alone. It's not hard to understand why Brazilian Presidents chose to set up office at the palace between the years of 1897 and 1960 once you lay eyes on the beautiful structure.
On a visit to the Palacio do Catete, you will have the chance to wander through various rooms and chambers, all of which look as they might have during the edifice's administrative days. Among the highlights is the formal ballroom with its large, leather-covered table. This room was where the cabinet used to meet on a regular basis. Another highlight at the Museu da Republica is the exhibit that covers the life of past President Getulio Vargas. This former leader actually committed suicide in the Catete Palace in 1954. The nightshirt that President Vargas was wearing when he fired the fatal shot is on display at the museum, as is the .32-caliber gun that he used. Guided tours in English can be arranged for those who want to get more insight into this and the other various exhibits at the Palacio do Catete, so you might keep that in mind when planning your visit.
The Catete Palace can be an excellent place to spend an hour or more, especially if you are interested in the fascinating political history of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil on the whole. When you're not enjoying the main exhibits during your visit, you might give the Folklore Museum a look or take a stroll in the lovely gardens. The branch of the Folklore Museum that can be found at the Catete Palace features folk art from Brazil and doesn't cost anything to enjoy. Having a meal at the popular onsite restaurant or taking a break at the onsite café are just two more ways to spend your time on a visit to the Museu da Republica, so you might find yourself lingering longer than expected.
The Palacio do Catete is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 2 until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. While the rates are low, those who are planning budget-minded Rio de Janeiro vacations might opt to drop by on Wednesday or Sunday, as these are free days. As far as getting to the museum is concerned, you can get there in minutes from the center of town (Centro) or from Copacabana if you take the metro. The metro stop of choice is Catete.
Image: JorgeBrazil (flickr)